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Phenomenology Methods & Data Collection

This module provides an overview of research methods for phenomenological studies and describes means of data
collection.

Learning Objectives:

 List and describe the steps involved in a phenomenology study.


 Describe the basic principles applied to phenomenological methodology and data collection.
 Discuss ways in which phenomenological data can be collected.
 Summarize tips for conducting an effective interview.

The methodology used in phenomenology differs than most other research methodology because the goal is
to describe a lived experience, rather than to explain or quantify it in any way. Phenomenology is solely concerned
with the study of the experience from the perspective of the participants, therefore, the methodology does not
include a hypothesis or any preconceived ideas about the data collected.

Phenomenology makes use of a variety of methods including interviews, conversations, participant observation,
action research, focus meetings, analysis of diaries and other personal texts. In general, the methodology is
designed to be less structured and more open-ended to encourage the participant to share details regarding their
experience. Surveys and questionnaires that are commonly used in other research methods to gather information
from participants would be too structured and would not allow the participant to freely share. In other words,
phenomenology emphasizes subjectivity. The goal of phenomenological research methods is to maximize the depth
of the information collected and therefore, less structured interviews are most effective.

Following is a list of principles and qualities applied to phenomenological methodology and data collection:
 Phenomenology searches for the meaning or essence of an experience rather than measurements or
explanations.
 Researcher should begin with the practice of Epoche. He or she will describe their own experiences or ideas
related to phenomenon to increase their own awareness of their underlying feelings.
 Phenomenology is different in that the researcher is often participatory and the other participants are co-
researchers in many cases.
 This type of research focuses on the wholeness of the experience, rather than its individual parts.
 Phenomenology differs from other research in that it does not test a hypothesis, nor is there an expectation
that the results predictive or reproducible. Additional studies into the same phenomenon often reveal new
and additional meanings.
 The study can be applied to a single case or deliberately selected samples.
A phenomenological research study typically follows the four steps listed below:

 Bracketing – The process of identifying, and keeping in check, any preconceived beliefs, opinions or notions
about the phenomenon being researched. In this process, the researcher “brackets out” any presuppositions
in an effect to approach the study of the phenomenon from an unbiased perspective. Bracketing is important
to phenomenological reduction, which is the process of isolating the phenomenon and separating it from what
is already known about it.
 Intuition – This requires that the researcher become totally immersed in the study and the phenomenon and
that the researcher remains open to the meaning of the phenomenon as described by those that experienced
it. The process of intuition results in an understanding of the phenomenon and may require the researcher to
vary the data collection methods or questions until that level of understanding emerges.
 Analysis – The process of analyzing data involves the researcher becoming full immersed into the rich,
descriptive data and using processes such as coding and categorizing to organize the data. The goal is to
develop themes that can be used to describe the experience from the perspective of those that lived it.
 Description – This is the last phase of the process. The researcher will use his or her understanding of the
data to describe and define the phenomenon and communicate it to others.
Several researchers have described variations of the for the steps used in phenomenology. The following diagram
provides an example of a more detailed description of the steps in a phenomenology study. It summarizes steps in
the Modified Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method as described by Moustakas (1994):
The video below, Tips for Conducting an Effective Phenomenological Research Study, offers additional information
regarding how to effectively use interviewing as a means of data collection for phenomenological study. Data
analysis will be the focus of the next module in this series.

Suggested Readings:

 Giorgi, A. (2012). The descriptive phenomenological psychological method. Journal of Phenomenological


psychology, 43(1), 3-12.
 Giorgi, A. (1997). The theory, practice, and evaluation of the phenomenological method as a qualitative
research procedure. Journal of phenomenological psychology, 28(2), 235-260.
 Hycner, R. H. (1985). Some guidelines for the phenomenological analysis of interview data. Human
studies, 8(3), 279-303.
 Measor, L. (1985). "Interviewing: a Strategy in Qualitative Research" in R Burgess (ed) Strategies of
Educational Research: Qualitative Methods. Lewes, Falmer Press.
 Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. London, Sage.
 Polkinghorne, D. E. (1989). Phenomenological research methods. Existential-phenomenological perspectives
in psychology: Exploring the breadth of human experience, 41-60.
 Starks, H., & Brown Trinidad, S. (2007). Choose your method: A comparison of phenomenology, discourse
analysis, and grounded theory. Qualitative health research, 17(10), 1372-1380.

Link to Phenomenology Methods & Data Collection Quiz


Research Ready: Phenomenology Modules
 Phenomenology Research Overview
 Phenomenology Methods & Data Collection

 Phenomenology Data Analysis

 Strengths & Limitations of Phenomenology

Resource Links:
Introduction to Phenomenological Research – This PDF provides a comprehensive overview of phenomenology
research.

Phenomenology – Offers basic information regarding the field of phenomenology including overview information,
research steps, and data analysis.

Phenomenological Research Guidelines - Provides an overview of phenomenological research including data


collection, analysis and presentation topics.

Phenomenological Research Methods – Contains a detailed descriptive of different types of phenomenological


research methods.

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Skip to main content
 Guest (Sign In)

Center for Innovation in Research and


Teaching

 Home
 Teach
 Research
 Development Resources
 Conducting Research
 Publication and Presentation

Phenomenological Data Analysis


This module provides a general overview of the steps used to interpret and analyze phenomenological data.

Learning Objectives:

 Describe how phenomenological data is analyzed in general.


 Explain the steps involved in analyzing phenomenological data
 Discuss the interpretation of phenomenological data.

Phenomenological research tends to generate a significant quantity of data that may include interview notes,
transcripts, recordings, and other types of records that must be analyzed. Pure phenomenology attempt to simply
describe the data, but does not attempt to explain or interpret. However, most phenomenological research adds an
interpretive element that allows the data to be used as a basis for theory and allows it to be used to challenge
structural or normative assumptions. It may even to be used to challenge or support policies or actions related to a
particular experience or phenomenon.

To begin, the researcher should read through the volume of material to begin to get a feeling for what has been said
about the phenomenon being studied. The researcher can then begin a deeper analysis of the data in an effort to
organize the information, focus on a deeper understanding and pull out emerging themes. The approach should be a
fluid one that follows the nature of the data and allows the direction to change through the course of analysis.

The researcher should look at all aspects of the experience as described by the participants. This includes physical
surroundings, objects, other people present, type of activity, outcome, social and personal interactions, time frame,
emotions, belief or value systems, attitudes. The researcher can then look to identify commonalities among these
aspects between the accounts from different participants. The goal is to use these observations to identify themes.
This can be difficult, but it may be helpful to keep in mind that themes are elements of the described experience that
cannot be changed without losing meaning. For example, if the researcher was reviewing narratives collected from
victims of sexual assault, the researcher should consider which aspects of the narrative could not be changed without
losing the meaning or understanding of how that phenomenon was experienced by the victim. If an aspect can be
changed and the meaning is not lost, then that aspect is not essential and not part of the theme.

If a significant amount of data has been collected, it is important that the researcher organize the data. Breaking the
data down and categorizing it by using codes can help to identify those essential aspects and develop themes. As
discussed in previous models, it is critical the researcher remove assumptions, pre-conceived ideas and biases out of
the analysis process. Organizing the data and using codes to assist in developing themes may make the process
more objective. The following video offers a step-by-step guide to coding data and developing themes.

There may be both collective and individual themes that emerge from analysis. Individual themes would be those
that are unique to one or few participants that may have some aspect of the experience that varies from
others. Collective themes are those occur across a group of participants who experienced the
phenomenon. Exploring the deeper meaning of these themes may allow for interpretive analysis and some
generalization of how the phenomenon is experienced. For more information on the details regarding interpretive
analysis, please see the interpretive analysis resource links in the menu to the right.

Suggested Readings:

 Giorgi, A. (2012). The descriptive phenomenological psychological method. Journal of Phenomenological


psychology, 43(1), 3-12.
 Giorgi, A. (1997). The theory, practice, and evaluation of the phenomenological method as a qualitative
research procedure. Journal of phenomenological psychology, 28(2), 235-260.
 Hycner, R. H. (1985). Some guidelines for the phenomenological analysis of interview data. Human
studies, 8(3), 279-303.
 Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. sage.
 Measor, L. (1985). "Interviewing: a Strategy in Qualitative Research" in R Burgess (ed) Strategies of
Educational Research: Qualitative Methods. Lewes, Falmer Press.
 Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. London, Sage.
 Polkinghorne, D. E. (1989). Phenomenological research methods. Existential-phenomenological perspectives
in psychology: Exploring the breadth of human experience, 41-60.
 Priest, H. (2002). An approach to the phenomenological analysis of data. Nurse Researcher, 10(2), 50-63.
 Starks, H., & Brown Trinidad, S. (2007). Choose your method: A comparison of phenomenology, discourse
analysis, and grounded theory. Qualitative health research, 17(10), 1372-1380.

Link to Phenomenological Data Analysis Quiz


Research Ready: Phenomenology Modules
 Phenomenology Research Overview
 Phenomenology Methods & Data Collection

 Phenomenology Data Analysis

 Strengths & Limitations of Phenomenology

Resource Links:
Introduction to Phenomenological Research – This PDF provides a comprehensive overview of phenomenology
research.

Phenomenological Research Guidelines - Provides an overview of phenomenological research including data


collection, analysis and presentation topics.

Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis – Offers a comprehensive discussion of phenomenological research,


starting with the research question and working through data analysis.

Methods: Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis – Describes the uses, pros and cons of interpretive
phenomenological data analysis.

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 Email Link

© Grand Canyon University, Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching. All rights reserved. About Us | Contact Us

GCU | Online Degrees | Evening Degrees | Campus Resources | Visit GCU

By participating in this community, you are in agreement with the Terms of Use, Privacy, Anti Spam Policies.